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Issue #220: October 9, 2011

I think I may have been writing in some foreign language in last week’s column, because rarely has a column generated so much e-mail by reader-geeks who were either confused by it or simply couldn’t get it to work. Let us take this time to ease the collective consciousness of all Geekdom, shall we?

First off, although the gear icon that I spoke of may appear in the upper-right corner of many different Google pages, the menu that you get when you click on it is context-sensitive, and has different content depending on where you are on the site when you click it. So you won’t necessarily see “Search settings” unless you’re on one of the search-related pages. For those of you who clicked a gear icon and got stuff like Print, File, Zoom, View Downloads, etc, you’re clicking on an icon in Internet Explorer’s toolbar, and not on a Google page. Web content is displayed below the toolbars, so make sure you’re clicking on the correct gear icon.

For those who asked about e-mail addresses, contacts, and Outlook, that was a topic I mentioned because the question asked by Tony R. referenced a previous column where he said I talked about Autocomplete, but I think he was mistaking it for a column from February in which I talked about Outlook’s e-mail address auto-completion. If there is a large enough demand, I can cover that topic again, but as of this writing the original column can be found online at if you want more information.

One of the biggest confusions came about from Google itself having two different features that perform the function of suggesting search terms as you type. Tony R. specifically asked about Autocomplete, and that’s what I see in Google when I look at it. However, there is also a feature called Google Instant, which I can find in described in Google’s online help, but does not come up on any of the computers I use. I suspect it may have something to do with my use of Google Toolbar, but I have been unable to confirm that. Regardless, it also seems that in many cases (perhaps ALL cases) Autocomplete simply cannot be disabled, even when you check the box that is supposed to tell Google not to do it. So, bottom line is, Google has out-Geeked me, and I’ll need to do some more research before being able to give you a definitive answer on how it works, if it can be disabled, and how to go about it. Stay tuned.

This week in Geek: So, after several months of delays, and a much-hyped press conference, Apple disappointed the masses by announcing the release of an updated iPhone 4 model instead the anticipated iPhone 5. Although the backlash has been pretty harsh, I personally think it’s a nice upgrade, although I’m very disappointed that the screen size isn’t improved, and that the much-touted voice control won’t be available on the legacy models. What about you? Are you excited, surprised, or indifferent? Is the new iPhone 4S enough to make you upgrade or switch from another brand? Send me your thoughts, and if I get enough good feedback, I’ll run a column on it in a couple of weeks.

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